According to a post made by DC Rainmaker, indoor cycling giant Zwift has pre-announced the imminent arrival of its very own indoor training hardware. According to the tech site, "the survey outlined two new Zwift products – a smart bike called the Zwift Ride, and then a direct-drive trainer called the Zwift Wheel."
This is nothing new - there have been murmurings of Zwift rolling out its own equipment for a couple of years now - but it is the very first inkling into what users can expect and, from the pictures, it looks pretty spectacular - we'll look at some of the details a little later.
Firstly, why could Zwift be launching its own equipment? Well, the rise of Esports and the UCI Esports World Championships, in particular, could very well be the chief factor in the decision. Accuracy of the best turbo trainers has long been a contentious issue among eRacers, with variations in power and questionable performances taking the headlines when numbers look too good to be true - this despite the efforts of Zwift transparency and the role of dual recording during racing to help sift out cheaters.
ZADA (Zwift Accuracy and Data Analysis) and ZwiftPower are two proponents leading the charge to ensure data accuracy is present at events such as the UCI Zwift World Championships and the Zwift Racing League, but many eRacers have been calling for standardised, 'neutral' equipment to level out the playing field.
Is this the start of a Zwift one-world equipment order to streamline the experience in a bid to limit bugs and equipment hiccups? This is what we know so far about the Zwift Ride and Zwift Wheel.
The Zwift Wheel is essentially a direct-drive smart trainer that can be paired with the Zwift Ride or your very own bicycle. It's been designed to look like a wheel with outer edges that illuminate, presumably under load. The details are yet to be confirmed but DC Rainmaker has listed several key attributes from the survey that was forwarded to him by a long-time subscriber.
According to DC, the Zwift Wheel - by specification - is closely related to the Tacx Neo 2T series of smart trainers but with a twist: 'Z Cog', which is likely a the company's virtual shifting protocol. Looking at the images of the Zwift Wheel, you can clearly see a cassette so the whole 'Z Cog' thing is an interesting one to say the least, especially when considering traditional shifting will actuate the derailleurs to assist the chain moving up or down the cassette. Shifting, as seen on the latest crop of smart bikes, virtually changes the gearing with no physical actuation.
Zwift Wheel Specs:
- Hypothetical pricing: $1,214 / £900
- Max power: of 2,200w
- Accuracy: +/- 1%
- Controls: Wireless game controller for your bike’s handlebars for steering, braking, and other game controls, most likely virtual shifting under Z Cog
- Gradient and terrain: 25% simulation, road surface texturing à la Tacx Neo 2T
- Features: Downhill acceleration, Z Cog, upgradeable to full Zwift Ride bike
From the pictures, it's clear the Zwift Ride is the company's take on the best smart bike concept. In execution, Zwift has cleverly designed it to look like the in-game Zwift Concept Z1 - or Tron bike, as it's affectionately known by Zwifters. As referenced on DC Rainmaker's post, the Ride is essentially an accessory to the Zwift Wheel, meaning it's possibly compatible with a regular smart turbo trainers, too.
It's also clear the Zwift Ride will not only offer the same level of adjustability as its smart bike rivals but also look the part. It even lights up like the Tron bike, which is bound to find favour with Zwift acolytes.
Pricing is yet to be finalised. According to Zwift, "the hypothetical pricing and features covered in the survey are designed to help inform the value that Zwifters place on different hardware product features. We’re excited about the launch of Zwift hardware and look forward to sharing more information with you in the future."
As mentioned in the survey, the Zwift Ride is listed at $2,294 / £1,700 which undercuts its rivals in a big way.
Zwift Ride Specs:
- Hypothetical pricing: $2,294 / £1,700
- Max power: 2,200w
- Accuracy: +/- 1%
- Controls: Wireless game controller for your bike’s handlebars for steering, braking, and other game controls
- Features: Immersive lighting, comprehensive adjustability to fit riders between 5ft and 6ft 6in, vertical storage
When can users expect these two models to go into production? According to the original post, Zwift is targeting a July 2022 announcement. This dovetails with the Tour de France Femmes 2022 and also falls within a week of Eurobike 2022, which has traditionally had a massive Zwift presence.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.
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Aaron is Cyclingnews' tech editor. Born and raised in South Africa he completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. As the former gear and digital editor of Bicycling magazine and associate editor of TopCar, he's been writing about bikes and anything with wheels for the past 16 years. A competitive racer and Stravaholic, he’s twice ridden the Cape Epic and completed the Haute Route Alps. When not riding, racing or testing bicycles in and around the UK's Surrey Hills where he now lives, he's writing about them for Cyclingnews and Bike Perfect.
Rides: Cannondale SuperSlice Disc Di2 TT, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Rim, Cannondale Supersix Evo Ultegra Di2 Disc, Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB
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